Prince William makes special appearance at BOD’s prestigious London dinner
New mum Amy sparkles among the 2,000 A-listers at €680-a-head testimonial dinner for O’Driscoll
Published 19/03/2013 | 05:00
OUR rugby king mingled with royalty as Brian O'Driscoll and wife Amy welcomed the great and good to his €680-a-head testimonial dinner in London.
Prince William was one of the 2,000 A-list guests from the worlds of sport, music, entertainment and business who gathered in the luxury Grosvenor Hotel for the special night in honour of our greatest ever rugby player.
It was the first major social event the couple have attended together since the birth of their first child, Sadie, on February 10.
Despite having given birth just five weeks ago, Amy looked like she had shed every ounce of baby weight and was stunning in a sequinned, knee-length dress and sparkly black Louboutins.
Brian, who wore a black tuxedo, looked very dapper by her side.
He said he was "very much" looking forward to the night, before rushing inside to escape the London rain.
The 34-year-old declined to comment on the disciplinary action he faces for his stamp on Simone Favaro in Ireland's 22-15 defeat by Italy in Rome, or to give any indication about his future plans for his career.
Prince William disappointed waiting fans and media by slipping into the hotel via the back entrance.
Other guests included U2's Bono, The Script singer Danny O'Donoghue, businessman Denis O'Brien and former attorney general Peter Sutherland.
Irish dancetroupe Riverdance said they were "delighted and honoured" to have been part of a testimonial dinner.
And the dance group said the night was extra special when they looked at the top table and saw Prince William, Brian, Amy Huberman and U2 star Bono watching them.
Julian Erskine, senior executive producer, said: "The night was really good for us. When we were asked months ago we were delighted and honoured and thrilled.
"To be here for us being involved in anything Irish and representing a cultural icon abroad made us very proud and happy to do it.
"Being a couple of feet away from Prince William, Brian, Amy and Bono on the top table made it even more special to represent Ireland."
One Direction heartthrob Niall Horan looked smart in a black, skinny tie and black suit.
Brian's teammates – including Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney, Cian Healy, Shane Horgan and Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip – also lined out, but Declan Kidney did not attend.
Keith Wood and England's Lawrence Dallaglio represented retired internationals of their respective countries.
Clive Woodward, who managed O'Driscoll during the Lions tour to New Zealand in 2005, was another guest.
Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender jetted in for the party, while football legends Niall Quinn, Damien Duff and Kevin Moran, as well as hurling star Henry Shefflin, all attended.
Prince William's pregnant wife, Kate Middleton, did not attend.
Tickets for the star's testimonial dinner started at €680 for a green seat, with the black-tie event kicking off at 7pm in the Grosevenor House Hotel on upmarket Park Lane.
The price of 'black' seats was so lavish it was not even disclosed to the public, but the lucky patrons were seated near Brian's table and all tickets sold out.
Organisers of the event included U2 star Bono, Michael Smurfit Jr and Denis Desmond, and Damien O'Donoghue, Brian's best man at his 2010 wedding to Amy.
Guests were treated to a champagne reception, four-course dinner and half a bottle of wine, as well as a mystery goody bag.
Award-winning Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sande provided entertainment. The exclusive party was so private, the menu has not even been released.
However, it is understood A-listers tucked into treats like Dorset Blue Vinney cheese and leek tart; an endive-walnut salad with beetroot and aged vinegar dressing; cured Loch Duart salmon served with a Granny Smith apple garnish; and Hereford beef carpaccio with a celeriac salad, for starters.
Mains included slow-cooked Aylesbury duck leg and pan-fried fillet of Angus beef with oyster mushrooms.
Afterwards, if the stuffed guests had any room left, they tucked into warm Bakewell tart, raspberry and rose-water sorbet, a brandy snap biscuit with vanilla cream, a dark chocolate and hazelnut mousse, and peanut cookie crumble.
The glamorous night included a number of fundraising activities, with a live and silent auction.
A substantial sum from the money raised will be donated by Brian to his chosen charity – the Irish Rugby Football Union Charitable Trust, which helps severely injured rugby players in their everyday lives and helps to restore their confidence and independence.
At Brian's second event being planned by the testimonial committee in Dublin on November 1, Temple Street Children's University Hospital and ISPCC Childline will benefit.
Harry Keogh, chair of Brian O'Driscoll's committee, said: "We are very excited to announce such an outstanding line-up of talent for Brian's testimonial dinner in London. "This is a very special occasion to celebrate Brian's historic achievements and recognise his contribution to rugby both on a national and international level."